There’s a lot more to nail polish remover than noxious chemicals, a deadly odor and naked nails. This handy house-bound acetone is the WD-40 of the cosmetics world, able to tackle all sorts of nasty jobs without requiring you break out tankards of toxins.
As with all poisons, however, keep nail polish remover out of the reach of children, remove all traces after using and avoid inhaling the fumes. Also remember to apply acetone gently as you don’t want to ruin or remove the finished surface of whatever you’re cleaning.
Without further ado, here are 16 unusual uses for nail polish remover that don’t involve you-know-what.
1. China Stains
Company is coming, you pull out your favorite (and only) Limoge plates and find ugly spots. Apply a dab of polish remover, gently rub in with a soft cloth and thoroughly wash and dry. Be very careful, however, not to remove the china’s glaze.
2. Patent-Leather Shoes
Despite all her adventures down the rabbit hole, Alice in Wonderland’s patent-leather shoes always looked pristine. Perhaps that’s because she kept a bottle of acetone with her to buff out scuffs. Dip a cotton swab in the remover, rub very gently so as not to remove the leather texture or paint, wash with soapy water, thoroughly rinse and buff dry.
3. Tile Floors
If your kids refuse to pick up their dang feet when they walk, your tile floors likely end up with unsightly scuffs. Fortunately, a bit of nail acetone removes those scuffs with a minimum of elbow grease. Just apply with a cloth, sponge or cotton swab, cleanse with soapy water and rinse.
4. Permanent Markers
Walls and other flat surfaces haven’t been safe from budding artists since the invention of permanent markers. Don’t panic. Soak a corner of a clean cloth in remover, gently rub the area in a circular motion, clean with soapy water, rinse and buff dry. This method works on everything from appliances and windows to wallpaper and skin.
5. Stickers on Glass and Metal
My beloved Honda Prelude sported the remains of a window price sticker until its dying day because I never figured out how to remove the danged glue residue. If only I’d known polish remover would have eliminated that gummy adhesive from glass or metal. The process is fairly simple: Remove the bulk of the sticker, wipe the area with remover, cleanse with soapy water and rinse. Apply the acetone to polished metals with a gentle hand so you won’t remove the finish.
6. Super Glue
Have you ever stuck two fingers together with super glue? Don’t pry them apart or you could remove some skin. Soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and apply it directly to the skin’s surface until you feel the glue loosen.
7. Pen Ink
My dad used to tell the worst joke: “Know why we call our pig “ink?” Because he always ran out of the pen.” Yuck, yuck, yuck. Seriously, folks: Leaking pens are yucky enough without punny jokes. If a broken pen stains your skin, take a cotton ball soaked in remover, wipe the marked area and wash with soap and water. While you don’t want to use acetone on most clothes infected with pen ink, it will remove stains from your clothes-dryer drum.
8. Watch Faces
Before cell phones replaced watches as our personal time keepers, you could buy new watch crystals when an old one became too scratched. Now you’re lucky if a jewelry store can even fix your old watch. Don’t despair, however, if scratches are keeping you from using your archaic timepiece. Very gently rub remover over the scratches on a plastic watch face until they vanish. The acetone dissolves the plastic, so the “very gentle” portion is a vital aspect of this instruction.
8. Correction Fluid
Remember correction fluid? Some people still use this stuff on paper documents, but the little white bottles gunk up quite easily because they’re rarely used. Pour a drop or two of nail polish remover into a goop-filled bottle of correction fluid then shake. Test it out then keep adding acetone until you’ve achieved the desired consistency.
9. Computer Keyboards
Dip a cotton swab into remover and lightly rub the computer keys. Rinse thoroughly with a second swab soaked in water. You’ll be amazed at the difference. Make sure, however, that the acetone doesn’t get into the deep cracks between keys.
10. Brass Lacquer
Before you can polish or re-lacquer old brass, you have to remove the original lacquer coating. Pour a small amount of remover on a soft cloth, rub the brass object until the old lacquer lifts off and polish.
11. Paint on Windows
No matter how well you tape windows before a paint job, unnoticed extra paint sneaks onto the glass. Or you may find a previous homeowner missed a few places during their own cleanup. You could break a few nails trying to remove the paint, or use nail polish remover for a small clean-up job. Dab on a bit of acetone, allow it to soak for a few minutes, rub in with a clean, dry cloth and cleanse with a damp cloth.
12. Plastic Bags on Metal
Hot metal toasters and plastic bread bags are not a good match. Once melded together, you could live with a permanent memory of that Wonder Bread bag or unplug the toaster and set to work. Once the metal is cool, pour a little nail polish remover on a soft cloth, gently rub over the damaged area (being careful not to remove the metal finish), wipe with a damp cloth and dry with a paper towel. By the way, this also works for melted plastic on curling and flat irons.
13. Metal Sanitizer
Acetone is a very effective disinfectant for straight-edge razors, tweezers and other personal metal implements. Simply buff with a cotton swab, cleanse with soapy water, rinse and dry.
14. Welding Plastic
Bet you didn’t know acetone fuses most plastics. Just apply a drop to one of the surfaces and hold the other surface in place until it dries. There are other, better chemicals for this (methylene chloride, for example) but acetone works in a pinch, say when you want to create a two-headed Barbie.
15. Glue Cap Loosener
To loosen stubborn glue lids, dip a cotton swab into nail polish remover and rub around the bottom of the cap. Voila!
16. Remove Leeches
How many times has this happened to you: You’re enjoying a leisurely soak in the sun when a child starts screaming, “Leech, leech!!” Naturally, you have a bottle of nail polish remover in your bag because everyone does their nails at the beach, lake or local swamp. This is your chance to play lifeguard; well, leech guard, anyway. Pour the acetone over the disgusting bloodsucker and it’ll peel right off, demonstrating exactly why this stuff should never be imbibed.
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